If a chick seems like it is having trouble standing with a twisted neck, it most probably is wry neck chicken — a health issue that chicken farmers come across. This complete guide to wry neck chicken will teach you all there is to know about this health problem.
This article will cover
- What is wry neck in chickens?
- What causes wry neck in chickens?
- Is wry neck contagious?
- Can a chicken live with wry neck?
- How do you treat wry neck in chickens?
- How long does it take to treat wry neck in chickens?
- How do I prevent wry neck chicken?
What is wry neck in chickens?
Medically called torticollis, wry neck in chickens is a clinical sign that is described as having a head and neck position that is not normal.
People often refer to this as twisted neck, crook neck, or stargazing. This is because chickens that suffer from wry neck have an abnormal neck form that makes them appear to constantly look backward.
This problem is mostly seen in chicks and ducklings and is less often in adult chickens. Wry neck chickens usually have difficulty holding their heads up, thus, also affecting their balance and ability to stand.
While this is a problem you want to avoid, it is treatable especially when detected and addressed early on.
To help you visualize, here is a video of a chicken with wry neck.
What causes wry neck in chickens?
Some chicken farmers debate on what the exact cause of wry neck in chickens is. Based on wry neck chicken cases, several factors can lead to this abnormal neck position.
Vitamin E deficiency
Studies and research often point to the lack of vitamin E as the leading cause of wry neck in chickens. Vitamin E is vital in keeping body processes in place.
On top of a deficiency in vitamin E, not having enough selenium in the body also contributes to wry neck. Selenium is a mineral that works together with vitamin E in helping your chicken’s body function properly.
A poor diet with not enough vitamin E and selenium can lead to wry neck chickens. This is why it’s important to give your flock a diet that consists of all the vitamins and minerals essential for growth and development.
Another explanation for the wry neck is chicken genetics. There are instances where both parents of the chick have either vitamin E deficiency or genetic problems. In effect, these are passed on to their offspring.
There are also cases where chickens are born with genetic problems which may manifest through wry neck.
Exposure to toxic substances
Wry neck can be one of the effects of ingestion or exposure to toxic substances. When chickens are exposed to toxins, they may get adverse effects such as lack of balance, vomiting, and wry neck.
Though it is still up for debate, there are claims that the Silkie and Polish breeds of chickens are more prone to wry neck. This is due to this variety having vaulted skulls or an opening at the top of the skull.
Many say this is a misconception, though, stating that wry neck is an issue that affects all breeds of chickens.
Is wry neck contagious?
Looking at the different causes that lead to wry neck, it’s safe to say that wry neck is not at all contagious. Your affected chicken will not be able to pass on the disease to the rest of the flock.
However, if the deficiency in vitamin E is the cause of your chicken’s case, you should review and check the diet you are giving your flock. Though it might be an isolated case, there is also the possibility of your flock not getting enough vitamin E from their diet.
Can a chicken live with wry neck?
Having wry neck can be a challenge for young chicks especially since they are still exploring the world. To answer the question, yes, a chicken can live with wry neck.
However, the condition left unaddressed can bring so much trouble to the little one.
For one, wry neck can cause difficulty in standing up, let alone eating and doing daily activities. Wry neck chickens that are not treated right away get fatally ill or die because they are unable to receive the nutrition they need as they cannot eat or drink properly.
Poor nutrition will make these chickens fragile. As a result, they will more likely be hit or trampled on by stronger chickens of the flock. It’s best to start treatment the soonest you notice signs of wry neck.
How do you treat wry neck in chickens?
Seeing your chick or adult chicken having to deal with wry neck is disheartening for chicken farmers. The silver lining, though, is that wry neck is completely treatable especially when you are able to detect and address it right away.
Isolate the affected chicken
Firstly, you need to take your wry neck chicken away from the rest of the flock.
The other chickens might overwhelm the affected one. In some cases, they might step on or hit the hurt chicken and may cause further harm.
Boost vitamin E intake
Secondly, you need to boost your chicken’s vitamin E intake. Regardless of the cause of the bird’s wry neck, the same treatment is given.
Look for food supplements for chickens that have high vitamin E content. These often come in powder or capsule form. If you can find ones with selenium, it is even better. Should you be unavailable to find a supplement that has both, though, you can opt for a selenium tablet.
You should give these dietary supplements to the affected chicken two to three times a day by mixing them with its chicken feed.
Assist the affected chicken
Because wry neck chickens have problems with their neck, pecking at their food might be difficult for them.
It is your role as the owner to help your chicken eat and drink. Assist your chicken by making food and water more accessible. You may also bring its food closer to its beak with the use of a spoon.
Monitor condition and check for improvement
Closely monitor your wry neck chicken to see if there are improvements on the neck problem. Healing differs from one chicken to another and is dependent on different factors such as the severity of the wry neck problem, the chicken’s health, and age.
If you want to avoid supplements and intend to use natural produce, you can feed your chicken food rich in vitamin E such as greens, spinach, and asparagus, to name a few.
Watch this video on how a chicken farmer was able to treat wry neck chicken.
How long does it take to treat wry neck in chickens?
If you are facing the wry neck chicken problem, you may ask: How long does wry neck last?
Wry neck does not go away unless you address it and give your chicken the proper treatment it needs. Once you administer the treatment through vitamin E intake, you have to wait and see how your chicken’s body reacts to it.
There are cases where improvement starts to show as early as 24 hours. However, this is not guaranteed as different factors come to play. You can probably see a better condition in days, weeks, or even months into the treatment.
As the chicken owner, you need patience and determination in treating wry neck. Results may not be visible right away so you have to be consistent with your plan of action or treatment.
How do I prevent wry neck chicken?
Regardless of the health issue, the statement that prevention is better than cure rings true. Not only does it save you money and time, but it also spares you from the stress and hassle of going through treatment.
The best way to prevent wry neck in your chicken is to give it its needed dose of vitamin E. Feel free to seek the advice of your veterinarian or those who are raising poultry on the vitamins that you can use for your chicken.
Ideally, you should be able to give your flock the nutrition they deserve for optimum growth and development. That means putting together chicken feed and other natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, and even meat so they get all the nutrients they need.
Remember, though, that when it comes to natural food or treats, you should give them in moderation.
Natural sources of vitamin E
There may be supplements readily available in the market but giving your flock natural foods that are rich in vitamin E and other vitamins and minerals is no doubt a healthy choice.
If you grow your own garden, you will have a wide selection of produce that contains vitamin E which you can give to your chickens.
Many fruits and vegetables are known for being good sources of vitamin E. These are the following:
For herbs, you can explore these with good vitamin E content:
- Cayenne powder
Wry neck chicken is a problem poultry farmers face. This is characterized by a twisted neck and affects your chicken’s balance and standing. If untreated, it may lead to poor health, weakness, and in fatal cases, death. Don’t worry as treatments, particularly boosts of vitamin E intake, are able to fix this problem.